Football News

Champions League 2024/25 new format: The big changes you need to know

By Andrew Francis

Published: 22:01, 13 December 2023

The Champions League is due to undergo a major shake up for the 2024/25 season, as the competition expands to 36 teams. 

An increase in the amount of teams taking part isn’t the only change, however. Here are all the details on how the Champions League will take shape from next season.


How will the Champions League group stage change?

As mentioned, the competition is expanding to 36 teams but the old model of eight groups of four will be scrapped, leaving one league of all 36 teams.

That doesn’t mean that every team will play each other, though. Instead the ‘Swiss Model’, most commonly used in chess, will be adopted. This means each club will play eight fixtures, four at home and four away.

Fixtures will be determined at the beginning of the season, with teams being split into four pots of nine. Pot 1 will consist of the side that wins the Champions League this season, as well as the eight sides with the best coefficients. Pots 2 to 4 will also be ordered on coefficients.

Each team will be drawn to play two teams from each pot, one at home and one away. So each team in Pot 1, featuring the biggest clubs in Europe, will play two other sides from the same pot.

Generally, clubs from the same country won’t be drawn against each other but, if a country has four or more clubs, they could end up playing one match against a team from the same country.

This all means that there will be more games in Europe next season than ever before. This season there will be a total of 125 Champions League games, but from next season there will be 189 games played in Europe’s biggest competition.

How will clubs qualify from the 24/25 Champions League ‘group stage’?

The final table will determine who qualifies for the knockout stage, with the teams that finish in the top eight positions automatically reaching the last 16. The clubs that finish from ninth to 24th, will enter a two-legged playoff to earn the right to enter the knockout stage. Teams that finish 25th to 36th will be eliminated from the competition.

There are two further changes to how things operate from next season. The first means that clubs will no longer drop from the Champions League to the Europa League if they are eliminated. If you are knocked out of the Champions League, your European campaign is over.

The other change sees just one knockout round draw from the round of 16 onwards, with teams seeded based on where they finished in the group stage. There will also be no country protection, meaning teams from the same country can face each other at any point. All teams will know their prospective route to the final prior to playing their Round of 16 matches.

How will the four extra Champions League clubs be decided?

With the competition expanding from 32 teams to 36, there will need to be four extra teams added to the competition.

Two of these teams will come from the two best performing countries in Europe this season. These places will go to the team who finishes highest in their domestic league that has not automatically qualified. Last season, that would’ve benefitted both Liverpool and Atalanta, who finished fifth in their leagues, England and Italy, the nations that finished top of the coefficient table.

The third extra place will go to the side that finished third in the league ranked fifth in the Uefa coefficient table. Last season, that was France, meaning Stade Rennais would’ve entered the Champions League.

The final extra place will go to the qualifying path for champions. Four teams used to enter via this method, but this will increase to five next season. This place can’t go to a team in the top 10 European leagues, meaning a side like Shakhtar Donetsk is likely to benefit, as they have a high European club coefficient, although Ukraine overall doesn’t have a high European team coefficient.

How does this affect the Europa League and Europa Conference League?

Both the Europa League, and Europa Conference League, will follow the same format, expanding from 32 teams to 36. The Europa League will feature eight group stage games, but the Conference League will only feature six.

There will still be playoffs for the teams that finish ninth-24th and no teams will drop from the Europa League to the Europa Conference League.